Going in reverse with a skeg rudder advice - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 10-22-2006
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Going in reverse with a skeg rudder advice

Greetings!

Anyone got advice on motoring in reverse with a skeg rudder?

I made the attempt 4 times today and boat wanted to go back out to sea instead of in the mooring. Yes, I did ensure my wheel (not a tiller on this boat) was either straight or in the direction I wanted to go but to no avail. Wind wasn't that much but did push a little.

I had no real trouble the previous week.

I know lining up is a plus (which I worked real hard on). Also, I know that going straight back is far easier than trying to turn the craft.

Anyway, looking for good advice here!

Thanks in advance!

Sincerely,

/s/ Jon C. Munson II
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Old 10-22-2006
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A few things... prop walk is a bear... it is often easier to gun the engine, get some momentum and then drop the engine into idle or near idle, which eliminates the prop walk considerably. Doing bursts of power is generally better than trying to run the engine at a steady RPM, as the propwalk will be less of a factor.

Also, the wheel won't have the desired effect unless you are actually making way in reverse. Look at the water behind the boat...if it isn't piling up against the transom, then you're still moving forward, and the wheel will have the opposite effect of what you expect, since you're turning it and expecting the boat to act as if it is in reverse, but you're not.
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Old 10-22-2006
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Like Sailingdog says, unless there's water flowing past the RUDDER, turning it isn't going to have any effect. Going forward, the prop may be directing a flow of water against the rudder even before the boat starts moving, so you might be able to start a turn immediately. In reverse, the prop is pulling water towards it from all over the place -- no flow until the boat starts to actually move through the water. If you're already turning to one side because of propwalk or another current, you have to overcome that before the boat will behave the way you want. Also, you mention possible wind, but not what the current may have been up to during your manoeuver.
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Old 10-22-2006
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Some boats, particularily longer keeled boats, simply will not back up in a straight line or in a controllable fashion. In that case it's not "operator error" - it's just the way it is.

Owners of such boats find ways around these limitations with preferred sides to moor, and positioning the boat to pre-compensate for what they know it's likely to do first.

This is why, for us, the good behavior of a boat in reverse under power was way up on our priority list. Fortunately most performance-oriented designs fit the bill.
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Old 10-22-2006
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Try getting some momentum in reverse (bursts of power), then shifting to neutral to take the prop out of the equation. Then you should be able to steer the boat in the direction you need to go. Use additional bursts of power as needed with shifting to neutral immediately.
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Old 10-23-2006
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Port side to

The rudder is relatively inefficient without great quantities of water flowing over it; either from headway or prop wash. It is very difficult to get enough stern-way to make the rudder efficient. Hence, the above posted advise is dead-on. Note that most ships, if there is an option, dock port-side to. For a single-screw vessel it allows for the most manoeuverability using the rudder, engines, and prop walk.
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Great advice so far, thanks!

Just for some clarification: I left the rudder straight until the boat was making headway in reverse and then attempted to turn the craft, using minute to larger gradations of turn when enough time had elapsed to determine the current set wasn't producing results (small steps so to speak). I also have no idea what the current was doing. We dock at Breezy Point Marina in a slip near the inlet of the marina and I believe the general current is from inlet towards the western end of the marina - I could be wrong on that one though. There is a salt marsh nearby that the inlet continues to, and the slips form the leg of the T that makes. They have a picture up on their website of the marina (www.breezypointmarina.com will take you there but it is a redirect). We're near the top right - next to the fish cleaning station at the moment (love that smell, not! ). Going with SailorMitch's comment, it definitely does take some momentum before the rudder is effective in reverse, and then the boat most definitely does not swing easy in any direction - it prefers to continue in its course. A bit irritating but obviously a bit of learning needs to go on there. Time and patience, eh? I'll have to post a sign to that effect when I have twenty guys behind me coming in to ramp out...

Sincerely,

/s/ Jon C. Munson II
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Yes, it does require a fair bit of momentum, especially on full skeg/rudder designs, not so much on balance spade rudder designs. Prop walk can cancel out any effect of the rudder on many boats... so getting the engine into neutral or throttling it down is often key to getting steerage in reverse.
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Sometimes you'll never get steerage in reverse. In that case, try using the occasional "kick" ahead, with the rudder angle you need, to straighten her out, then back into reverse, repeat and repeat again.

Not fast nor glamorous, but will get your stern into the slip eventually.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nolatom
Sometimes you'll never get steerage in reverse. In that case, try using the occasional "kick" ahead, with the rudder angle you need, to straighten her out, then back into reverse, repeat and repeat again.

Not fast nor glamorous, but will get your stern into the slip eventually.
This is generally only true of full-keel designs, not ones with a fin keel and skeg-mounted rudder.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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